Why Is Bloat A Serious Condition?

Bloat is a serious condition as it progresses extremely quickly and can often be fatal.  It is more likely to affect older dogs and larger breeds due to their deep chests.

With bloat, the stomach becomes abnormally enlarged or distended by excessive gas, food or fluid content.  As the stomach expands, it puts pressure on other organs. 

Bloats without torsion can last for minutes to hours, even days in low-level chronic situations, without it becoming life-threatening.  However, with torsion the dog can progress to shock rapidly, even within minutes.

Problems that can arise from bloat include:

No blood flow to the heart and stomach lining

A tear in the wall of the stomach

A harder time breathing

In some cases the stomach can rotate or twist (anywhere from 90o to 360o) – this is called gastric dilatation volvulus (or GDV). This traps blood in the stomach and blocks it from returning to the heart and other areas of the body, and can cause shock.  Severe torsion usually means the displacement of both the stomach and the spleen (they exchange positions).

The damaged stomach can release toxic substances that can result in heart failure.

Research analysis of gastric gas from live dogs with GDV suggest that it predominantly results from swallowing air rather than from gastric fermentation digestive disorder).


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